I bought a bicycle. I don’t know why. I already have one. I don’t understand why I needed to make a medium-sized expensive purchase to make me feel happy. For a long time, browsing and buying new books made me happy, but I couldn’t keep up with all the books I bought. There is enough content available for free to consume until the end of time and then some–so, I needed something else. I’m not making enough money to buy a fancy sports car.
I’d like to buy a big house down in the far south suburbs of Austin–I mean, like Kyle or Buda. I want to buy the last place I will ever live, and sit on my back porch looking out at my tiny, treeless yard surrounded by a semi-private privacy fence and listen to the neighborhood and read bad science fiction from the public library.
I’d like to move on to work at some big company and man a desk in an office that people have forgotten about–where I can draw a paycheck, draw up lists of projects nobody will ever touch, and read bad science fiction from the public library.
I’d like to get old and fat and let the next generation take care of me. I’ve done little with my life so far, and I can feel myself slowing down both mentally and physically. There will be no great startup ideas, or pushes to reinvent the way Americans consume slop.
Is Kyle or Buda the best place to live out the last half of one’s life? Surely, a cooler climate would be better–by the time I die, summers will routinely stay in the 120s throughout July and August. Maybe it’s not the best place, but I’m tired of picking up and moving. If we move to Portland or Denver or Ann Arbor, we will have to rent again for a year, survey the market, replenish our savings, and then move again into the final resting home. Then, will my old bones be able to handle the winters up in these places after having spent the last twenty years down here? Most likely not.
Plus, my old dad will probably die in the next twenty years. I’d like to be near him, even if he doesn’t seem to care much about whether I’m near him or not. My wife’s parents are up in Dallas, and they aren’t going to live anywhere else the rest of their lives. I suppose I have to think about others sometimes, and not just my own damn selfish self. Eventually, some little money will be socked away for a motorcycle, sports car, pickup truck, boat, children’s college education and maybe a few dollars remaining in the bank for retirement. If not, I can always sell the large, cookie cutter home and use the proceeds to fund our remaining time in an assisted living center.
The other retirement dream, of course, is that one of my children is smarter than I am about money, and makes enough to send their parents a check every month so we can continue to pay the taxes on the oversize home and fill it with more junk picked up from garage sales, flea markets and off of Craig’s List. I mean, I want to be able to go on the main Craig’s List stuff page and just buy random shit that I may or may not need.
Here’s the thing…I don’t understand myself and the world anymore. The world doesn’t make sense to me, probably because I never paid much attention to it during my adolescence and young adult years. I had no idea what was going on with Bill Clinton until the end of his presidency. I didn’t care about poor people or people of color. But, I did think that I knew all there was to know about everything because I tried to read the NYT in the school library every week and read the KC Star most every day. You can expose yourself to large amounts of news and still never comprehend what’s going on–absorb the information and figure out ways to act on it, especially if you are actively and aggressively desirous of burying your head in the sand.
Now that I’ve been exposed to all kinds of people who don’t really think like I do–rabid folks on both the right and left–I feel like an entity who is just passing through this time and place. I’m like a spaceship orbiting a planet, trying to figure out how to enter its atmosphere without blowing up. Every time I try a new angle of approach, I start to catch on fire and become obviously an outsider and ill-fitting, and I have to pull back and try again for re-entry. Maybe one day I will land on this planet and find my perfect world, living someplace like Michigan near a lake with a family that is well-established and highly connected and privileged, and I will never question at all why life is the way that it is.
I mean, it’s not as if my life has gone terribly. It’s gone pretty well by most standards that aren’t standards of high success, fame and greatness. Except, the older I get, the more I feel as if I belong nowhere among any group of people. I am, by default, excluded from most invitations to social things, and I am refused friendship by all new groups I encounter. The very concept of me making a friend or friends, a buddy or buddies who hang out with me more so than any other dude–it is utterly foreign now, though for awhile it once was not. But, as I’ve stated elsewhere, I don’t know that I ever made a friend because we connected well due to similar ways of looking at the world–it was either out of convenience due to us both being the outcasts of the class or because of booze that the friendship cemented.